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Anna Gaskell in The New York Times, Sept. 29, 2002

Justine Kurland in the Sunday New York Times Magazine, Sept. 29, 2002

Underwear in cups, in Noritoshi Hirakawa's Shower in the Dark at Deitch Projects
photos by Nancy Smith

Hirakawa's sash, in Shower in the Dark

Marina Abramovic
at Sean Kelly in New York

My Favorite Artist
by Charlie Finch

Leafing through the Sunday New York Times Arts and Leisure section last Saturday afternoon, we chanced upon a celebration of the grotesquely untalented Anna Gaskell, illustrated with her newest snapshot, a clichéd, vomit-inducing, nothing photograph of an altar seen through a schoolgirl's legs.

Here also was the insipid curator Matthew Drutt, who commenced the Gaskell swoon five years ago by purchasing her amateurish "Alice in Wonderland" series for the Guggenheim, from shapeshifter dealer Casey Kaplan, opining that one has to "separate Ms. Gaskell from her Yale contemporaries," Justine Kurland, Katy Grannan, Malerie Marder and Dana Hoey.

Please! Kurland, Grannan, Marker and even Ms. Hoey far surpass Gaskell, which the New York Times, especially, having commissioned copious Kurlands and Grannans for its magazine, should realize.

But they, unlike Gaskell, haven't grasped the pants legs of bigshots Gregory Crewdson and Douglas Gordon, as I'm sure the sycophantic Drutt would also love to do.

Also grabbing pants legs on Saturday were Noritoshi Hirakawa and Arto Lindsay at Deitch Projects' Wooster Street gymnasium, where sheeplike attendees stood in line, handed over their underwear, walked through a terrifying, dark, Buchenwald-like shower and then received a red velvet sash (or "jockstrap") as a reward on their way out of the piece, entitled Shower in the Dark.

We tried to give Jeffrey Deitch a wedgie, but his suit, and his soul, were too tight.

Sitting outside the show on a stoop, contemplating the triviality of it all, we encountered savvy Chelsea dealer Sean Kelly, sauntering towards his home, next to Deitchland.

"You adore Marina Abramovic, Charlie, so let me tell you what she's going to do in my space.

"On November 15, Marina will move into the gallery at 9:30 p.m., where she will live naked and starve herself for 12 days, sleeping and showering.

"Be sure to be there opening night."

Our head swooned like a Gaskell -- for the tempting, severe Yugoslavian is our favorite living artist, a veritable Christ figure.

Who can forget, in 1997, when she crucified herself (albeit without nails), naked, for two hours, ten feet up the wall in Kelly's previous SoHo cube?

At the opening, dealer John Weber remarked, "Gee, that's a very lifelike sculpture up there."

"Excuse me, John," we replied, "but that's her!"

Afterwards, Kelly's staff, like Jesus' disciples, had to take Marina down and massage her numb sinews for an hour to resurrect her.

Whether she's walking across the Great Wall of China to dump her boyfriend, or endlessly scrubbing bones in a dank, dark basement to cleanse the genocide in her native land, Marina is the ultimate suffering servant as world artist.

Perhaps, the supercilious Anna Gaskell should strip down and join her, so she can, for the first time, learn what art really is.

CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).